AUTHOR Jo Knowles
PUBLICATION August 11th 2009 by Candlewick Press
READ September 02, 2012
One pregnancy. Four friends. It all adds up to a profound time of change in this poignant, sensitively written YA novel.Jumping off Swings was a book that I bought on a whim. I was perusing my local bookstore when I saw the cover and was drawn in by the empty feeling that it gave me. The cover is the perfect pretense for the novel. It's a very quick read, clocking in at 230 pages, I read it in a single 2 hour sitting and I was completely captivated from page 1 all the way to page 230. I wasn't too sure what to get out of this, all I knew was that it was about a teenage pregnancy.
Ellie remembers how the boys kissed her. Touched her. How they
begged for more. And when she gave it to them, she felt loved. For a
while anyway. So when Josh, an eager virgin with a troubled home life, leads her from a party to the backseat of his van, Ellie follows. But their "one-time thing" is far from perfect: Ellie gets pregnant. Josh reacts with shame and heartbreak, while their confidantes, Caleb and Corinne, deal with their own complex swirl of emotions. No matter what Ellie chooses, all four teenagers will be forced to grow up a little faster as a result. Told alternately from each character’s point of view, this deeply insightful novel explores the aftershocks of the biggest decision of one fragile girl’s life — and the realities of leaving innocence behind.
What we get within these pages is a story told in quick chapters, constantly switching POV. That seems to be a new fad, and I am slowly becoming a fan. The varying voices were distinct and I always knew who I was reading about. We have Ellie, a girl who is looking for love in all the wrong places. She is quick to trust and is so desperate to find companionship that she is constantly being let down in the worst way possible. While I will admit I was constantly shaking my head how quick she was to let a guy into her pants, I knew many girls like her growing up. The girls who took one sweet comment to mean that the guy wanted to be with her for the rest of their lives. Once her actions got her pregnant, she definitely learned her lesson on that front but I still felt for her along the way. The guy stuck in the mix with her, Josh was also a character that was very well developed. He had it rough at home and he was so lost in the situation.
Josh and Ellie have two very supportive friends in Caleb and Corinne and not only do we get to see that side of the friends but we also get to watch a very healthy teenage relationship blossom between them. Their romance was cute and served to show the more mainstream side of things as a bit of a contrast. Under the circumstances, seeing what their friends were going through, they were very hesitant and knew that they had to take things rather slowly so as to not end up in their own mess. Caleb's mom is always there as well, and she was the kind of mom I hope to be one day. She was a mom through and through but she was someone that her son and his friends could turn to when they needed advice.
In a story of teenage turbulence there are a lot of beautiful relationships that blossom in Jumping off Swings. In the short amount of pages that I absorbed I grew to feel for these characters and essentially care about their well-being. If you are on the hunt for a quick read that will actually make you feel, then pick this one up the next time you are book shopping.